Leah Himlie, Contributor
Content warning: mentions of transphobia, sexual assault and violence
The hashtag #RIPJKRowling has been trending lately, but not because the famous author died. A tweet by the user @memeforhire explained the hashtag rather well: “in memory of jk rowling. she ain’t dead, but she killed her own career by proudly hating trans people.”
Rowling has a history of being transphobic, and attention is once again being drawn to her because of her recently released book in which a cisgender man dresses up as a woman to kill his victims. In the book, Rowling is spreading the incredibly harmful and untrue message that trans people are violent, dangerous, and not “really” the gender they identify as.
Unfortunately, this book is just the latest in transphobic rhetoric from Rowling. Prior to this newest book’s release, she has made countless comments on Twitter that promote transphobic views. In a tweet posted last June, she mocked the phrase “people who menstruate” saying, “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” By doing this, she ignored the trans women who don’t menstruate, the trans men who do, and even the cis women whose bodies just don’t do it for whatever reason.
A few days later, she even wrote a lengthy blog post about how she is “worried about the new trans activism.” Spoken like a true TERF. As a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, Rowling’s main point appears to be concern over the safety of “natal” girls if trans women are let into women-only spaces. As if trans women aren’t women. As if trans women are violent and untrustworthy. As if trans women are more likely to be assaulters than the victims of assault.
In actuality, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey Report, nearly 50 percent of the trans people surveyed experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. The common statistic for cis women is 1 in 6, or just
under 20 percent. Both are horrifying numbers, but one is significantly larger than the other. So why is Rowling more concerned about trans women being the perpetrators of assault rather than the victims?
Despite Rowling’s unfortunate status as author of the Harry Potter books, the majority of the cast of the Harry Potter movies have made statements denouncing the author’s views. Daniel Radcliffe, the actor
who plays Harry, made a statement with the Trevor Project saying, “Trans women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional healthcare associations who have far more expertise on this subject than [Rowling] or I . . . we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”
So we’ve discussed exactly how problematic Rowling is. What if you still love the books and want merchandise but don’t want to financially support her?
There are many small artists that sell items independently of Rowling’s official line of merchandise on sites like RedBubble and Etsy. If you want to buy her books or movies, try looking at a secondhand bookstore. And remember, the library is a good resource if you don’t necessarily want to buy them. Doing these things will allow you to enjoy the world of Harry Potter while also reducing the profit Rowling receives from the sale of Harry Potter theater tickets, movies, books and official merchandise.
I don’t believe it is likely that Rowling will become less transphobic in the future. I wish the Harry Potter series could have been written by someone more inclusive like Rick Riordan, but no one has a time turner with which to fix this. Even so, the fanbase has done a wonderful job denouncing her transphobic views and supporting trans and nonbinary people everywhere. In the words of Emma Watson, the actress who plays Hermione Granger and tweeted in support of transpeople, I have one last message for my trans and nonbinary siblings: “I and so many people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.” Keep being yourselves. You are valid.